PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers University gymnastics team will add eight newcomers to the roster in 2004, announced head gymnastics coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton. Sharlene Evans (Lititz, PA), Elizabeth Fittery (Denver, PA), and Lorena Johnson (Lilburn, GA) have signed National Letter of Intent to compete at Rutgers, while Jackie Campbell (Wheatly Heights, NY), Alexis Leyh (Georgetown, DE), Rachael Romano-Joseph (Shutesbury, MA), Kelly Straka (Fairless Hills, PA) and Casey Santangelo (Cherry Hill, NJ) will also be a part of the 2004 Scarlet Knights gymnastics program.
Evans, a senior at Warwick High School, competes with Berks Gymnastics Academy. She was a Level 10 national qualifier in 1999, 2000 and 2003, while qualifying at the regional level every year since 1997. She is expected to make an immediate impact on vault and bars and could move quickly into the all-around rotation.
“Shari is an excellent all-around gymnast as well as an outstanding athlete,” said Chollet-Norton. “Her elegance and grace will make her a great addition to the beam and floor exercise teams. Her experience at the national level plus her time in the National Tops Training Program will make her transition to collegiate gymnastics that much easier.”
Fittery, also a member of Berks Academy, hails from Cocalico High School. A Level 10 regional qualifier since 1998, Fittery qualified at the national level from 1999-2001 and again in 2003. At USA Age Group Nationals, she finished second overall in her age group. An all-around gymnast, she will become one of the top bars competitors with two major D release moves. Fittery could also be one of the top vaulters in 2004.
“Beth is a great gymnast and student,” said Chollet-Norton. “She will bring four strong events to the team next year. She is an outstanding vaulter who will make a big impact on our vaulting lineup. She will also be one of our op uneven bars workers. She brings a strong national background to the team.”
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Johnson comes to Rutgers from Parkview High School and Gwinnett Gymnastics Center. A Level 10 national qualifier in 2003, Johnson has qualified at the regional level since 1999 in Levels 9 and 10. She will be a top contender for a place on the vault and floor lineups.
“Lorena has outstanding floor and vaulting skills,” said Chollet-Norton. “She competes with a 10.0 vault, which will make her one of the top vaulters on the team. Her excellent tumbling skills will make her one of the key parts of our floor team. Lorena is a dynamic gymnast who will be a real asset to the team next year.”
A level 10 competitor, Campbell is from Half Hollow Hills East and will add to the depth of the vault and floor lineups.
Leyh, a student from Sussex Central, is a level 9 competitor who is strong on beam and vault as well as an excellent student.
Romano-Joseph of Amherst Regional hopes to overcome injuries to compete on vault.
Straka hails from Pennsbury High School and competes with Will-Moor Gymnastics, the club team of current Scarlet Knight Marinelle Antonio (Mt. Laurel, NJ). A Level 10 gymnast, Straka will add depth to the beam and floor rotations.
Santangelo, the only Garden State native, will come to RU from Cherry Hill West. A Level 9 national competitor, Santangelo will help the team on vault, beam and floor.
The Scarlet Knights finished the 2003 season with a 14-13 record overall and
finished eighth at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship.